Novak Djokovic reveals key to his iconic 2011 US Open return against Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic 2011 US Open Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic has recalled his famous forehand return against Roger Federer at the 2011 US Open and revealed the key to the shot which turned the match around.

The Serbian explained he anticipated Federer would serve out wide because he felt that was his Swiss rival’s “go-to serve” against him in important moments.

In the semi-finals of the 2011 US Open, Federer had two match points against Djokovic when leading 5-3, 40-15 in the fifth set. On the 40-15 point, the Swiss hit a slice serve out wide to Djokovic’s forehand and the Serb crushed an astonishing cross-court return winner.

Djokovic then saved the second match point, broke back and did not lose another game as he took the fifth set 7-5 to complete a comeback from two-sets-to-love down. History had repeated itself – because a year earlier – Djokovic had saved two match points in his victory over Federer at the same stage of the 2010 US Open.

The world No 1 then defeated Rafael Nadal in a four-set final to secure his first US Open crown and third Grand Slam title of an incredible 2011 season.

Speaking in an interview with seven-time major singles champion John McEnroe for ESPN, Djokovic broke down the iconic and crucial moment.

“I anticipated he is gonna serve wide and – I don’t know why but this is probably the first time I’m gonna say this – but I felt that was his go-to serve against me in the important moments,” said the 36-year-old.

“I said, ‘Okay, you know what, if he serves here – I’m gonna smack it. I’m gonna be in a good position.’ Which I did. You know how it is. One or two shots can really shift the whole momentum.”

After his 2011 US Open semi-final win over Federer, Djokovic, then 24, discussed his incredible comeback against his great rival and the return he produced.

“Yeah, I tend to do that on match points. It kinda works. (Smiling.) No, it was a very similar situation like last year. I had to take my chances. I was very close to being on my way back home. He was serving. He was 40-15 up,” reflected the Serbian in his post-match press conference.

“Yeah, I mean, I managed to hit that amazing forehand return which got me back. I got a little bit of energy from the crowd, and I fighted back. I needed to stay positive, and I definitely didn’t want French Open to happen again. (Federer beat Djokovic in the 2011 French Open semi-finals). It was incredible last two games.

“If you’re playing somebody like Roger, you have to take your chances when they’re presented; otherwise you’re losing a match. I don’t want to say, yeah, I’ve been in control of the fifth set, because that’s not true.

“He was serving for the match. He was match points, and I could easily lose. But this is what happens at this stage of a tournament when two top players meet each other. Just a couple of points decide the winner.

“That forehand return, I cannot explain [to] you because I don’t know how it happened. You know, yeah, I read his serve and I was on the ball and I had to hit it hard, and it got in, luckily for me.”

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